Care and Maintenance


Why Tung Oil, why not epoxy or varnish?

The Greenland Paddles, Rolling Sticks and T-Sticks we sell are all finished with several coats of Tung Oil. We have found this to be a superior finish for these products to that of either epoxy or varnish. There are a number of reasons for this including environmental concerns, but on a more basic level the main reasons are that epoxies and varnishes are slippery when wet and make control of the paddle difficult in rough conditions. Another drawback of an epoxy/varnish finish is the difficulty of maintaining them. Although these finishes are hard, the wood underneath is still relatively soft and when the edges of the paddle gets knocked, as it inevitably will, the epoxy/varnish will chip or crack and leave rough edges allowing water to penetrate to the unprotected wood. Repairs in these cases can entail major sanding to remove the old finish and the reapplication of the finish, in some cases multiple coats with long drying times that require sanding and buffing to finish.

With Tung Oil The initial coat penetrates and is absorbed into the wood filling its pores and preventing water from soaking in. Subsequent coats seal the surface. Tung oil is a drying oil which means that it reacts with air to form a durable coating on the surface of the wood. But unlike epoxy/varnish, it goes on very thin and leaves the surface feel of the wood unchanged.

Tung oil protects the wood from water without taking away the natural wood feel. On the loom in particular it allows the natural texture of the wood to remain which assures you a secure and positive non-slip grip when needed while allowing for a light mobile hold during general use.

In addition to providing a paddle with good grip and water resistance, a Tung Oil finish is also easy to maintain.

Regular Maintenance

Tung oil provides a thin layer of protection to the surface of the wood. Over time the effectiveness of this layer will be reduced from contact with your hands, the water and with exposure to the sun. How fast this happens depends on how much you use your paddle and how well you protect it when not in use. A general rule is that when your paddle starts looking dull it is time to give it another coating of oil. This is best done frequently when you first have your paddle, gradually requiring less frequent oiling as the paddle seasons.

Start by cleaning the surface of the paddle with some “Fine” steel wool (Grade 0-00), taking care to work with the grain of the wood. The steel wool will smooth out any rough spots from the surface of the paddle and give it an even base for the application of more oil. Remove any dust with a damp cloth and then allow to dry.

The oil is best applied with a small scrap of lint free cotton cloth. Use only a small amount of oil at a time on the cloth and wipe the oil on evenly all over the paddle replenishing the oil on the cloth as required. Do not over-oil the paddle.

Once the oil has dried, check the surface of the paddle. If it has an even sheen then it is finished. If it looks as though the oil has soaked into the paddle and has left the surface dull in places, buff the surface of the paddle with the 0-00 Grade steel wool and apply another coat of oil.

Once you are satisfied that the wood is not absorbing any more oil, give it a light polish with a clean dry cotton cloth.

Dents, Scratches, Gouges

Sooner or later, your paddle will receive battle scars, dents and scratches from use, when this occurs you may choose to repair them, if they are minor they can swell out again, so you might wish to leave them, remember if you choose to repair, it will require the removal of some wood. If it is moderate damage possibly raising a splinter or leaving a gouge in the surface of the wood, you will need to sand out the damaged area with some 180 grit sand paper gradually use finer grit sand paper until you are happy with the repair. Follow this up with steel wool and oil as you would during normal maintenance.

A word about oils and oily rags

Tung oil is Tung oil, a Tung oil “Finish” is not. As pure Tung (Nut) Oil seems hard to find in Australia most manufacturers use varying amounts in their products, and generally prefer to offer it as a Tung Oil Finish, these products contain lacquers, varnishes, estapols etc. which defeats the purpose of using an oil. Read the Label carefully.

There are other oils that can be used:

Linseed Oil (as used on your Cricket Bat) is good, but will darken the wood starting by yellowing it.
Danish Oil, is usually a blend of oils and may contain Tung, Linseed, Pinewood, Eucalyptus, and Citrus Oils.

With all oils follow the manufacturer application and safety instruction and be aware that they are flammable.

When you have finished with oily rags they should be rinsed in soapy water and put outside to dry. Do not put the oily rags into waste bins or near anything flammable as under the right conditions they can generate enough heat to self ignite.

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